Thursday, December 28, 2006

Tribute to James Brown...

This past Tuesday, the 26th, was the last day of my 2 month residency at the Kibitz Room in LA. My favorite dive bar. It was just after the godfather of soul died. The legendary Willie Chambers and his brother Joe of the Chambers Brothers were there like they ALWAYS are. Willie even comes out to other shows that I play and sits in with us. He's sat in with my band upwards of 40 times. We do People Get Ready, Time Has Come Today, Kansas City and the classic James Brown number -- I'll Go Crazy, among others. But the energy Tuesday was something that you couldn't manufacture. There was no pretension. Only ascension. Channeling JB. Because my band, all with different tastes -- (I had Bobby Womack's guitar player sitting in, along with members of Warners Brothers records rock act The Vacation as well as the great Chambers Brothers and some other local legends and touring band stalwarts) -- all coming from different worlds. We all came together for James. The love was astonishing. At the very end of the last set (about 1:45am) everyone in the audience was standing with us and we were just on the ground with mics set up-- all intermingled. On the fly I started calling out the chords to Try Me, Please Please Please. A crazy thing is me, a Brentwood white boy, singing and Willie and Joe, a couple of black men from the south before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, harmonizing. What an honor! It gives me chills. It is love man. Then someone wanted This is a Man's World. I started playing it. I had had it playing through the PA earlier in the night twice because for every show that I do I make a mix to play during the breaks between sets. Tuesday the mix was ALL James Brown. So we started into it. And Joe came up and we kinda messed up the lyrics. But then the band... we just kept on keepin those chords moving. And I just started yellin' into the mic, "Willie get up here." So my friend Willie comes up and he tells this story while the band is vamping for 20 minutes about how Mick Jagger refused to follow JB on stage the first time he met him. And Willie was singing -- "James Brown was a friend of mine." And there's like 30 people there. And some other folks took turns singing. Praising James Brown. One fella was singing. And he had tears streaming down his face. He had to leave the stage. My bass player was crying too. He was playing 2 notes for 20 minutes. He's got a degree in music. His band is signed to American Records by Rick Rubin and he's crying playing 2 notes. It's closing time in LA on Boxing Day. Not a busy night at all. But the people that were there with us. The musicians on stage. The bartenders. That was something we'll never forget.

Photos by the brilliant Melinda Dahl


V said...

If it were like that, I'd go to church.

holland said...

this is beautiful, Paul! what an incredible tribute!


Paul Chesne Band's Fan Box